Update: This service is no longer available.
I’ve been a happy user of ProtectMyPhotos for over a month now. The best thing about it is that I’m barely aware it’s working: after installing the client one can completely forget about it. Now, this is exactly what I said about Mozy a little while ago, so what is different here?
First of all, let’s define what ProtectMyPhotos is: an online photo data backup/restore service with quite a few bells and whistles added. As usual, TechCrunch has the detailed review, so I will focus on positioning and some comparative analysis here, which is not quite easy, for it resembles/competes with several other services, yet does not fully replace either.
When it comes to online photo storage, we tend to think of Flickr, Zooomr and the like – but those services are primarily focused on sharing, and you have to manually upload photos. This is the part that’s fully automated by ProtectMyPhotos: just like with Mozy, you download a client application, set your preferences on what you want to back up (let it find photos or manually select directories), then leave it alone. From now on all your photos are synchronized with the online version, non-intrusively, as the program runs in idle time and throttles back when you start using your computer. The system keeps multiple versions of your photos online, so you get to pick which version to restore from (“userproof system” in case you mess up your current version) .
Unlike Mozy and other backup/storage services, ProtectMyPhotos allows easy access to your online pictures: your original directory structure is preserved, you can browse and display, even do basic photo manipulation online that is synchronized back to your PC.
When I first looked at the pre-launch service, it clearly focused on photos only; since then they added support for several office document types (doc, xls, pdf …etc.), as well as financial documents like Quicken and MS Money files. This is of course great, but why the restriction? Without the file type limitation this would be a full-featured online backup / storage service. Of course then it should be called ProtectMyFiles, but that domain name is taken.
A mobile edition, publishing to Flickr, opening files locally (not just photos, Word, Excel ..etc also) and automatic synchronization of multiple computers are amongst a host of new features recently announced.
The last one is a (potential) biggie for me: it could replace useful but unreliable FolderShare – if it wasn’t for the file type restriction.
In summary, I’m somewhat puzzled: ProtectMyPhotos definitely does more than just protect my photos, overlaps with several other services but the file-type limitation forces me to run redundant applications: Mozy, FolderShare and ProtectMyPhotos. I certainly wouldn’t mind reducing the clutter in my systray…